Blockbuster productions that you want no part in

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James Berklan
James Berklan

With another summer of huge movies nearly behind us, it's a good time for providers to exhale in relief. Or wonder anxiously if they have been on camera themselves. Especially if Mike DeWine would be the film's producer.

DeWine isn't the mastermind behind “Deliver Us From Evil,” though providers might disagree whether it would be a suitable tie-in for the Ohio Attorney General.

Earlier this summer, DeWine announced grand jury indictments against Steven L. Hitchens and the senior care community he owns, Autumn Healthcare of Zanesville. The 39 counts against Hitchens include patterns of corrupt activity, Medicaid fraud, forgery, tampering with evidence and a variety of other alleged skullduggery. The incorporated facility itself faces 17 counts for many of the same issues.

DeWine's office first heard from residents' family members of alleged malfeasance and shoddy care in 2012. With the loved ones' approval, his office started placing secret cameras in resident rooms. 

On June 6, 2013, DeWine and other authorities announced they had started proceedings to strip the facility of its license. Hitchens fought in court to stay open, while provider advocates worried aloud about “paranoia” that could spread among nervous caregivers.

Fast forward a little more than a year, and a grand jury hands down criminal indictments against both the owner and the facility. In 2013, DeWine defended the use of secret cameras and said more would likely occur. It did. Video evidence allegedly shows numerous instances of sub-standard or absent care. 

Moreover, DeWine emphasized this June that “further indictments are certainly possible.” He acknowledged it was the first time, to his knowledge, that an attorney general had used the cameras in such a way. “The use of cameras is not only legal, but today is essential to be able to investigate these cases,” he told a media gathering.

Sounds like a man who would not be shy about trying to film some sequels. One has to wonder how many of his peers around the country have been watching and are mulling doing the same.

If nothing else, this drama has re-emphasized the importance for providers to not only deliver good care but also create open, satisfying relationships with family members. Perhaps not the fodder of a blockbuster movie, but then again, also not the fodder of a law enforcement blockbuster.


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